If you are the IT operations manager for a small or medium sized enterprise, then you may not yet have been asked about the energy costs and environmental impact of your business unit. But the chances are that you soon will be. A survey of IT managers found that whilst two-thirds of them did not have a commitment in place to develop green storage plans, two-thirds of those without a plan expected to have one within five years and one-third within two years.
Drivers of green IT
There are a number of significant drivers of green IT, including government legislation, cost savings and customer demand. The most compelling driver is compliance with government green legislation. In the UK, the government’s Carbon Plan aim of achieving 80% cuts in greenhouse emissions by 2050, means a reduction in energy use per capita of between 20% and 50% from today’s levels. To get there the government has imposed a new compliance regime across industry, business and the public sector.
The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is a mandatory reporting and pricing scheme designed to incentivise energy efficiency and cut emissions from large energy users in the public and private sectors across the UK, representing around 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Participants include supermarkets, water companies, banks, local authorities and all central government departments.
As an IT Manager in an SME, you might think that you don’t need to worry about the impact of the CRC Scheme. You don’t directly, but it is very likely that some of your bigger customers or prospects, particularly those in the public sector, will. Organisations that fall within the CRC are required to monitor and report their energy use annually to the Environment Agency, which then charges them an allowance for every tonne of carbon they emit.
So if you are looking to do business with supermarkets, water companies, banks, or public sector bodies then you need to pay attention to the energy costs of the hardware or services that you are supplying to them, as these will impact on their CRC reporting requirements. This is one of the main reasons why you will be asked about your own environmental management plan if you are tendering for work with such organisations.
The second driver of green IT, for you and your customers, is of course the rapidly rising cost of energy to power your devices and networks. Even after the recent price falls in the cost of oil and gas, energy prices have still more than doubled since 2004. Any immediate price relief for business is likely to be temporary, as we continue to switch to more expensive sources of electricity, such as nuclear and wind, and governments continue to levy climate change taxes in order to drive usage down.
These factors mean that your existing customers or internal managers will expect you to minimise the energy cost of the kit and services that you are supplying to them or managing for them. Your new prospects will be demanding the same, particularly those in the public sector.
Components of a green IT strategy
So, if all of the drivers of green IT remain in place, reducing costs, compliance with green legislation and helping to win new customers, then what can you do when you are asked as an IT business unit to reduce your energy costs and your environmental impact? Here at Transputec we have already faced these issues, for ourselves and our customers, and we have identified five key ways to reduce both costs and environmental impact:
- Server virtualisation tops our list of energy saving storage technologies. This is the partitioning of a physical server into smaller virtual servers to help maximize your server resources. The resources of the server itself are masked, and software is used to divide the physical server into multiple virtual environments, instead of dedicating one server to a single application or task. Server virtualisation reduces costs because less hardware is required, and it maximises the use of resources through the use of fewer servers, saving both space and energy costs. Transputec has reduced the number of servers it uses for clients from 120 to 30 through the application of virtualisation.
- A second route to low energy data storage is by utilising green data centres, and those situated in Iceland offer particular energy benefits. Transputec has recently relocated much of its data storage to a centre in Iceland which is very energy efficient for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, the very cold climate there offers unique opportunity for the use of free natural cooling technology. Secondly, Iceland produces 100% of its energy from renewable thermal and hydroelectric sources. This means the energy used for the data centre is clean, cheap and reliable. The distance to Iceland does produce a latency delay, but only of only milliseconds, which means that there is almost no impact on most applications.
- A third route to energy saving, which is in many ways the easiest to implement, is to use more energy efficient devices and then optimise the energy management settings on them. At Transputec we are replacing most of our desktop PCs with thin client devices, which have no hard drive and store all sensitive data, memory and applications back in the data centre. These thin client devices provide a virtualised desktop environment, which has many cost, security and scalability benefits, in addition to being much more energy efficient. Laptops can also be used as an energy efficient replacement for desktop PCs. All modern devices have energy management settings such as hibernate and sleep mode that should be fully utilised on setup.
- Don’t forget to consider the non-IT energy usage in your office environment when you are reviewing your energy efficiency. Installing modern LED lighting can now match your current specifications, but with a reduction of up to 90% in the use of energy. With such a saving, the extra cost of LED bulbs will be paid back very quickly. At Transputec we have made maximum use of LED lighting and we have optimised our heating and cooling systems throughout the entire office environment. We also encourage our staff to switch off lights when not in use and unplug chargers overnight. Every little bit helps towards creating a more sustainable operating model.
- 5. One final way to reduce environmental impact is an excellent document management system to manage and store what would otherwise be held as paper documents. Even in our digital world, there are many enterprises that still use paper for billing, accounts, shipping, customs and other transactions for which there are compliance demands and audit requirements. These documents often need to be kept for several years and require large amounts of physical storage space as well as vast amounts of paper, both of which are environmentally expensive. To solve this problem, Transputec has developed Shield Intelefile, a sophisticated application that allows companies to scan, store and retrieve vast numbers of documents in a protected cloud environment.
How we can help you with your green IT strategy?
Transputec has already implemented its own sustainability strategy, incorporating all of the elements outlined above. This means that we are in an excellent position to help advise our clients on their own green IT plans.
In addition to advising on a green IT strategy, we can also help you to implement it in three different ways. Firstly, we can provide energy efficient managed IT services to you, using our own hardware and infrastructure, including our green data storage centre in Iceland. Secondly, we can provide you with energy efficient hardware, such as thin client devices, and deliver them to you with fully optimised energy saving settings. Finally, we can provide you with an outstandingly efficient document management system, in Shield Intelefile, that will save you having to store huge quantities of physical paperwork.
If you are looking to reduce your energy costs, bid for a public sector contract, or just want to help save the planet give us a call and we will do our best to help you.
Transputec Green Champion
+44 (0) 20 8584 1400 (Enquiries)